Saying no and other issues…

Did you ever watch Who’s the Boss with Tony Danza and Judith Light? There are so many classic episodes, but the one that sprung to mind recently was the episode when Angela tried a ‘positive parenting’ approach and never said No (S7e7). Parents are always trying to figure out what will work with their kids, as well as what works for them.

Anyway, that’s sort of the approach that I took with trio. Instead of giving an outright no, I’d try to reframe their request with what they *could* do in my response to their question. I found, when they were small, that it helped to hear what was possible, rather than just shutting down their desire with a flat out No – unless it was unsafe or there was a bigger issue at play. But on the day-to-day, I didn’t want them to be brutally rebuffed at every question (because man, don’t they ask a lot in a day!) – I was worried about tantrums and rebelliousness (ergo it was easier for me too).

My teenager is now actually asking to be told no. When he asks for a Nutella sandwich after dinner and before bed, I tell him what he can have instead (cheese, banana, peanut butter, etc). And his retort is “A No would have sufficed…” But I KNOW that his next question will be an exasperated “Well! What *can* I have then??” Part of parenting is always being wrong (but geez, I totally thought the best part of parenting was always being right!! Sigh.)

Peeking under the surface of this exchange, I hear him asking for clearer boundaries. Since I’ve never had a teenager before, I’m open to learning alongside him and striving to figure out what this means for me as his parent. Maybe there is problem solving that I’m inadvertently denying him. By supplying the answer to his unasked question (What can I have then??) I have prevented him from taking the next step in his own path of discovery. And really, the food-snack issue is just an analogy for other ways in which I’m precluding his self-awareness. It’s about food just now, but soon he’ll need to uncover his own path about social relationships, time management, finances, and other adult-y things. He practices with these smaller issues so he can better navigate those more challenging pieces of life.

There will be times that he might need my support in decision making and those times would be appropriate for me to ask questions, rather than giving conversation-stopping-negatives or supply him with an unrequested answer. I’ll hold out for those moments and Just Say No when it makes sense.

As always, I’m so grateful that he’s my first. He’s been so great with articulating himself so I can hear and learn these sticky webs that we’re all trying to navigate.

xo
Mto3

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Well.

That was a busy entry into our school season! Two kiddos shifted into new schools and routines (uhm… high school!? Hello! How is it possible that I’ve got a total teenager?) and I have been left reeling with my own issues of easing back into the groove.

The summer was a blaze of togetherness, adventures, and now that vacay is behind us, we’re settling into normalcy: homework, chores, after-school activities, and work.

Yay autumn!

Raising Men

Many years ago, it was tough to reconcile that my two oldest were these small baby-ish bodies that were going to morph and mature and be molded into Men. And that I was supposed to do it with very (very!) little influence from those humans who had already walked this path.

Whaat!

Well. I’m here. My baby boys are changing in front of my eyes. I’m truly (truly!) not sure when it happened, but my oldest is now the size of his father, and when he hugs me, he has the same heft and presence as another adult. No longer do I need to crouch over a little bit when I check his teeth for cleanliness – in fact, I need to go up on my toes (this happened this morning: not gonna hide it. He was 2 minutes late in catching his morning bus, and said no when I asked whether he had brushed his teeth. The solution? He gave me a toothy grin and asked ‘how do they look?’ and I assessed the fuzziness and gave him a piece of minty gum. Mhm. That is 730am parenting of a teenager at its finest.)

His size, the size of his shoes (it’s the same as his age: 13!!), his deepening voice, his constant hunger, his sleeping in. I can no longer deny it. My baby is growing up. And once I swallow the lump in my throat, I find even though he doesn’t really look like my wee babe anymore, he still is – in some ways. He still needs help clipping the nails on his right hand. I have to remind him to clean his ears. To take a sweatshirt on these autumn days. He accepts my hugs, and *occasionally* seeks them out. I will still do things for him that I know he’s capable of doing: making an evening snack, helping make his bed, getting him a drink while I’m in the kitchen… At some point, he will no longer ask me to do those things.

Without an in-home example of a Man, he has still managed to figure out that complimenting the chef is a wonderful thing to do. He does after-dinner tidy-up with his siblings and I. He mows the lawn. He does laundry. He helps his siblings with homework. He has a paper route and is active in his Scouts community. He texts to let me know when he’s out with his friends to keep me looped in. He sets the table and takes out the garbage. He loves fast, expensive cars. He loves first person shooter games. He interacts and chats with adults with confidence, humour, and respect. He makes an effort to problem solve and chat out issues.

As he matures, I believe it’s becoming less important to have an example of a Man in the house as it is to have learned about being an Adult. And I can do that. I am doing it. We’re doing it together. Figuring it out, and navigating as a team. I’m sure he’s collecting experiences and examples of being a man* from his grandfather, his scout leaders, school staff, and he gets to choose the pieces that he would like to emulate.

If time travel were possible, I wish to tell my 10 year younger-self that it’s ok if I don’t know anything about raising boys! It turns out that kids don’t need gender-fication as they grow up. It’s just raising children into adults.

x Mto3


*An endearing thing happened the other day when we bumped into a friend at the park and we met her husband for the first time. My dear 13 yo commented afterwards about the qualities he saw in the husband (kind to animals, friendly with strangers, polite, funny) and said he wasn’t surprised our friend married him because he seems like a good guy. I love that he was watching the man and picking up traits he admired and find valuable. 

 

 

Dating done different

The last time I dated in earnest, cell phones were brand new. And I was only just barely out of my teens. I now have a teen of my own. Weird.

The really weird thing is that I have to use a new paradigm. It is inappropriate for me to ‘act the role’ when I’m meeting someone new. I have balls now. I get shit done. I’ve lived, and loved, and lost and there’s not much someone can show me that’s new.

This dovetails back to my questions about why bother dating at all? What am I really getting out of it? I don’t need another person to take care of, nor do I need a man to take care of me. This has stymied me and prevented me from exerting any effort into the relationship world. Not to mention the fact that I don’t really understand what is so great about relationships anyhow. But that’s a story for another day.

Today’s story:
Sliding over the details, I met a man. This man shakes up my world and asks me to set aside that which I thought I understood to try and consider a new perspective. He listens, and offers insight, and reflects concepts and understandings back to me. He inspires me to be real and genuine and authentic and is helping me understand that my own self-love is the first ingredient in a healthy relationship with others. He operates out of a dating paradigm that is unlike anything I’ve ever known or understood. He has a laundry list of characteristics and traits that I enjoy – I’m sure you know the ones I mean.
The thing that sets him apart from any other man I’ve ever known is his spark and zestiness combined with a wisdom and depth that I wasn’t expecting.

He says no games, and I actually think he means No Games. I can be pretty direct and open with my thoughts and feelings, but I have a hard time trusting over the long term. The part with No Games that I struggle is in the behaviours and weird emotional bits that drag me into the familiarity of push-me/pull-me.
Into me getting wrapped up into what-is-he-thinking-about-right-now?
Into does-he-really-like-me?
Into me analyzing myself and every exchange we’ve had and wondering if it was the right thing to say.
Into thinking about who sent the last text or the first text and therefore who should be texting the next time.
Ugh. Like super-ugh! Who has time or energy for *that*???

So I found and adopted this New Way of Thinking of Relationships:

  • We are sharing life’s adventures
  • I am practicing acceptance and empathy
  • I am developing my communication skills
  • I am learning about trust
  • I am present in this moment as I lift my eyes up and take a look

This has shifted my relationship focus off of the generic him who stands before me, and lets me dive a little deeper into the real individual standing beside me. It takes away the slightly aggressive and possibly antagonistic face-to-face quality of comparing, and lets me look sideways at him to imagine him as my partner, walking beside me for this part of my journey. In a very real way, it puts me back in my own shoes as I walk.

If I am getting huffy and hurt that he’s not responding to my passive-aggressive hints, I remember that I’m learning about trust and am developing my communication skills – I have the power to change the conversation. And if I don’t like his answer, I can practice empathy and acceptance. And if I look up and see that we are no longer sharing life’s adventures – then what.the.fuck. am I doing here? And then I have more decisions to make. It’s still early days so he and I haven’t had any moments where I’m hurt and huffy and trying to force him to get a clue. I very honestly and directly tell him what I’m feeling and thinking and we go from there. He hasn’t yet told me I’m ridiculous, nor has he intimated that he doesn’t want to talk about it. It feels that he sets things aside and hangs in with me while we work through stuff – all the while asking questions, telling me stories or things from his past, making poignant comments.

Obviously, I could go on and on about him.

However – it stands to show that there ARE other ways to date. And there ARE other ways to consider what dating might mean for you – maybe it’s not acceptance, maybe it’s something else. But I believe it is through dating (and all relationships, really) that affords you the ability to learn and grow.

That is a new thought for me. And maybe that’s part of the answer to “Why bother dating at all?”

 

here comes the sun
Here comes the sun

Turns out I’m the student *and* the teacher

Why is it so hard for me to create a new script between Lil Miss and I?

I still have these expectations of her that she wants to meet, but just cannot. And while I sometimes find it easy to make space for her, other times I hear:
judgements from others;
my fears of what she’ll be like as a teen;
and my inadequacies at having more helpful interactions with her.

And then I get mad at myself but take it out in other ways.

And how can I help her sibs understand that she’s not being malicious (but can I be sure she’s not being malicious??). And how can I encourage her to blossom as an individual when she hears such negative things all day long – in her own head and from other people’s mouths? When everything is such a challenge for her? When just copying words from a blackboard is an exersize in frustration?

Why do I hold onto this expectation? I couldn’t love her anymore than I already do. How can I let go and still encourage her to do and be good in the world? How do I accept her as she is, yet let it be known that her actions aren’t always acceptable?

How do I feed the love and starve the fear?

It’s om-ly Thursday (yay!)

year of the monkey
My year of the monkey (it’s not so cute irl)

It’s been a tough week.

Ok. It’s been a tough year. 2016 has been chasing me and shaking it’s arms at me and trying to find ways to make me lose my cool.

I won’t even bore you with the litany of things I’m feeling overwhelmed about – because I definitely understand that there are gradations of challenges. (Oldest reminded me tonight, while I was whinging about the cold sore on my lip, that I’m lucky to have lips. Go into Gratitude is what I heard, and I appreciated his effort.)

My mind likes meditation and yoga – I will not say I’m particularly great at either practice, but I aim to take something from my experiences. I *adore* the possibility of personal development and mind quiet.

It is helpful in this period of growth opportunity (aka sucky-hard, hate-to-be-an-adult time) to Go into Gratitude during the very challenging moments, and strive for a quieter mind when I have a bit of quieter time. And when I say “helpful” it just means that I can find my breath again rather quickly after an explosive SHOUT and put things into perspective.

It’s also helpful to be mindful of where I am in space and time: the ground beneath my feet; the way the air feels in my lungs. While I walked pup around the bloc, I took some moments of reflection (he greedily sniffed the grass: no trouble being in the moment for him!) … Looking at the stars, realizing they’ve been here since the beginning, and are so huge and amazing… I can find a gift in that.

trifecta of peace
Peace Trifecta

So that trifecta creates and shapes my mornings and sets me up on this Thursday. I’m not racing for the weekend – although I will enjoy it when that moment comes (I assure you!) – I will enjoy today.

I will find the om in this moment.

 

Hope you are finding yours.

xoMto3

 

A dog’s best friend…

Pup-po has some favourite friends (the cat is one of them, but the feelings aren’t mutual) and sometimes he has a hard time expressing those feelings. Sometimes he can be rough with his besties.

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And, being somewhat frugal (in some regards and only sometimes) I usually sew up his stuffies for a few more weeks of play before being binned. They sometimes end up looking a little gruesome. But, he loves watching me work  (or hates having to wait…)

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Oh but he is so happy when he has his good friend back!

Umm… until he sees his really good friend, del gatto.

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(This stand off is quite common. Pup-po is sure del gatto wants to be licked and sniffed, but del gatto has known too many dogs! Maybe one day they will better align…)